At just 29 years old, Michael Blake is already a political veteran. The self-described “kid from the Bronx” has been a key member of President Barack Obama’s team since 2007, recently serving in the administration’s Office of Public Engagement, often referred to as the White House’s “front door.”
These days, Blake is back on the campaign trail as the national deputy director of Operation Vote. When not on the road engaging with voters at barber shops and beauty salons, Blake is at the campaign’s beehive like headquarters near Chicago’s Grant Park, which is where EBONY caught up with him to discuss the all-important Black vote.
EBONY: Is the African-American community excited about President Obama this time around?
BLAKE: We think about whether the Black community should be excited, and if it is; [I can tell you that] it is. And it’s our job to have the president’s back, because he is the one who shares our values, and he is the one [who] is going to make sure the changes that he’s instituted will be continued for the next few years.
EBONY: President Ronald Reagan famously asked, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” For a lot of us, the answer is no. How will the campaign deal with that?
BLAKE: We have seen growth. Has it happened for everyone? No. But we’re seeing some positive steps: ending the Iraq war; getting health care done; Pell Grants: Forty-six percent of Black students are able to go to school because of what’s happening with Pell Grants. That’s what the change has been. Now our job is to keep telling that story.
EBONY: Are you worried about our voter turnout?
BLAKE: No. We see every single day that Black Americans are volunteering, getting involved, registering and turning out. People want to fight for this president. For those in the African-American community, if you are thinking, ‘It may be OK for me to stay at home because it doesn’t matter,’ we need to be very clear: The policy changes that have happened because of the president will be taken away by Mitt Romney. Plain and simple.